Sunday 31 May 2009


I used to dream I could fly
If I could I would
I'd wait for the sun to rise
Sail above sparling water
Still ponds and shadowed forests
Tolkein trees would wave at me in delight

Flying high with the birds
Rich sounds rise from their throats
Sirens who would herald me
Those who soar in circles
Seen keening by the shore
Similarly seeking sources of solace
Would sail away on the wind

I, too, seek comfort

...In the sparling waters
...In the deep richness of the land
...In the enduring beauty of nature
...In the perfume of pine and cedar
...The green of the moss that beckons bare toes

I would if I could
Fly high above the trees
The emerald teal of the mallard
The fauna sing in chorus
Spring peepers laud the journey
Wind rustles the tall grass as I pass

Fly away from the noise of
Man's inhumanity to Mother Nature
Soar, rise, fear no more
Smoke rises from afar
Sludge fills her waters
Plastic her lakeshores
We can give back her due
Honour and laud her
Stop the destruction of her lakes and trees
Respect her wisdom
She cries as winds rise

*Sculpture from the Lynn Norris studio - but her husband carved it!

This work is © Jennifer Jilks.
For more information on pollution, visit

Spring, I presume

Tis Spring, we doth presume
When wafts that sweet perfume.

A sure sign 'tis of spring
When Lilacs make me sing.

My preference remains,
The seasons though they change.

Spring we doth presume
When birds sing out for June

This work is © Jennifer Jilks.

Bad season for bugs

In honour of the bugs, which are bugging everyone, two and four-legged, I post this ancient poem.

The Flea - John Donne (1572 - 1631)

Marke but this flea, and marke in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
Me it suck'd first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled bee;
Confesse it, this cannot be said
A sinne, or shame, or losse of maidenhead,
    Yet this enjoyes before it wooe,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two,
    And this, alas, is more than wee would doe.
Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
When we almost, nay more than maryed are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w'are met,
And cloysterd in these living walls of Jet.
    Though use make thee apt to kill me,
    Let not to this, selfe murder added bee,
    And sacrilege, three sinnes in killing three.
Cruell and sodaine, has thou since
Purpled thy naile, in blood of innocence?
In what could this flea guilty bee,
Except in that drop which it suckt from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and saist that thou
Find'st not thyself, nor mee the weaker now;
    'Tis true, then learne how false, feares bee;
    Just so much honor, when thou yeeld'st to mee,
    Will wast, as this flea's death tooke life from thee.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Hospice Muskoka Opens a New Palliative Care Room

Palliative Care and end-of-life care, is a crucial issue in health care. It is the right of every patient to die in dignity, with comfort measures that ensure that they are, indeed, comfortable. I have written else where that this is not always the case, especially for those without an advocate, i.e., in Long-Term Care. We also want family members to feel at ease physically, if not mentally. I have created a number of posts on Senior Health Care, specifically palliative care, it is of major concern. For those with the means and the methods, finding care is not so painless, but we do know that those with money tend to access more health care, than those with less means (Seow, 2008). Hospice Butterfly Ball

What is a shame is that Hospices in Canada depend about 70% on donations, despite our advocacy in this needy area of Dying With Dignity. Hospice Muskoka just finished the Butterfly Ball fundraiser. We are a busy group.

For those who have been with loved ones at the stage of life, we know the difference it makes to have access to nurses, and comfort measures. To that end, Hospice Muskoka, including, Sandra Winspear (Executive Director), Owen Mellow (Chairperson) and Board members - Pauline Bullock, Gail Oakley, Bonnie Blain, and Stephen Drury were all present yesterday at the ribbon cutting ceremony. In addition, Janice Smith (Office Administrator), and Michele de Koning (Intake Coordinator) were there to assist. Paul Demsey was in attendance, he spear-headed the first palliative care room in SMMH. Local politicians were there to speechify, as well as many volunteers.

I include here, Hospice Muskoka #1 Intro Owen Mellow, the reasoning behind the creation of a third palliative care room, by Owen.

Speeches can be viewed:

Resources: Ontario
Seow, H. (2008). The use of end-of-life homecare services in Ontario, Canada: Is it associated with using fewer acute care services? ( research was presented at the NSM LHIN Palliative Care conference in Orillia, March 25, 2009. Dr. Seow will be working at McMaster.

Local issues and Primary Care

With great excitement, the Globe & Mail has announced a new Toronto hub: Toronto reporters, reviewers, columnists and visual journalists in one place: They plan on featuring blogs,
"We've signed a deal with Torontoist, the city's best comprehensive blog, to bring you intensely local tales from every corner of Toronto."
What about the rest of us chumps?

The numbers are interesting. With 11.4 million people in the province of Ontario ( 5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, Toronto has 2.5 million people, most of us do not live there. Now, I know that people visit and work in the GTA, but they have far different concerns that remain unaddressed in media.

It would really be nice if we could find more information on non-Toronto regions and municipalities somewhere in the media! It ocurs to me that issues that affect

For the many who retire in Muskoka, for example, there are difficult issues not yet addressed in Toronto-centric media: environment (noise & light pollution, wells and septic systems), social, tourism, employment, education, addictions, access to services, rural politics, access to health care, media, transportation peculiar to those NOT in a city.

In fact, what I believe is that since about 50% of us DO NOT live in the GTA and we have more in common than we might expect.

In a study by Dr. Hsien Seow, he found that "patients living in rural areas used 20% less nursing and 7% less personal support hours/week, that those living in non-rural areas."
Do you suppose this is by choice? Or do we have access issues? Local papers constantly feature ads for nurses or PSWs. Most of my friends in the business of senior care state this concern.

The Ontario LHIN (gatekeepers of health care dollars) has published,
May 2, 2006North Simcoe Muskoka (NSM) Population Health Profile (PDF)

--NSM LHIN's overall population health profile.

Interesting information: relative to the province, NSM has a higher
  • annual average population growth rate
  • proportion of older people, daily smokers,
  • prevalence of activity limitations,arthritis/rheumatism
  • age-standardized all-cause mortality and hospitalization rates.
We have a lower
  • percentage of immigrants, visible minorities and Francophones
  • percentage of the population who have had contact with a physician
  • life expectancy at birth for both men and women
  • low proportion of young adults.
Simcoe Muskoka health statistics are clear:
"The population in Simcoe Muskoka is aging, which is consistent with trends across Ontario and Canada. In Simcoe Muskoka the percentage of those 45- to 64-years-old increased to 27% of the total population in 2006 from 23% of the total population in 2001. The proportion of seniors (65+) also increased slightly to 14% in 2006 from 13% in 2001."

What seems clear is that we must concentrate as much on accessing health care in all regions of the province, not just in the city.

Phone-in shows do not take this into account. Summer visitors, and seasonal residents, complain about taxes, but when they drop of a heart attack in rural climes, they want roads and infrastructure that easily conveys them to a hospital.

Most of us succumb to circulatory system diseases or Neoplasms (tumours), resulting in hospital visits and Primary Care interventions.

It behooves you to be prepared, and ensure that your health care plan takes into account long-term issues, and the ability to access treatment where and when you retire. Those who retire in northern, rural communities fail to realize the disparities between rural and urban delivery of services. Many require transportation to and from the city.

Seow, H. (2008). The use of end-of-life homecare services in Ontario, Canada: Is it associated with using fewer acute care services? (

Friday 29 May 2009

Photohunter theme: books

How can I not show my book on the library book shelf for my PhotoHunters book theme?!

I love books. I love sitting by the lake with a good book (sans bugs, of course). Reading, research and writing, those are my passions. My goal: to combine my written word with more images.

I have reviewed a number of books. Reading is so good for us!

Critters galore!

To quote from Wordsworth:
"Heaven lies about us in our infancy!"


First Charlie came around and did some cropping of clover. He hasn't been around for awhile.

  While Earth herself is adorning,
                  This sweet May-morning,
              And the Children are culling
                  On every side,
              In a thousand valleys far and wide,
              Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,

Now, a momma and 4 goslings have decided to munch on our clover. They eat the bugs, too!

Thursday 28 May 2009

Arthur Black & his rant

Here is something my down under readers can weigh in on!

On May 22, 2009, the Weekender, which comes out Fridays in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, published this article by Arthur Black. I am sure it is printed across the country, as he is picked up by many small newspapers unwilling, or unable, to find local writers to discuss issues of import to local, regional, national, and international readers.

As Kerri Macdonald writes in her blog, Rollicking Measures: chew on this
"Black extends an apology “on behalf of all Canadians” to “all 4.3 million” New Zealanders for a series of complaints a Canadian woman made about a popular candy called the “Eskimo” she discovered on New Zealand shelves. Seeka Parsons denounced the candy–which is shaped like a person wearing a fur parka–as an insult to her people."

I agree with Kerri, and Seeka Parsons. Arthur Black is old beyond his time. There is no need to perpetuate outdated notions. Sure, says another blogger, we have "Eskimo Pie" in Is It Racist To Eat Eskimo Pie?, but we need to create an awareness internationally.

CBC says, "The candy's manufacturer, Cadbury/Pascall, has told New Zealand media that it does not plan to change or remove the Eskimo Lolly, which has been a fixture on New Zealand shelves since 1955."

This images is one that is particular to Inuit: a beautiful coat, that has has its thefts of such intellectual property. A 2001 article, Inuit Women Seek Parka Copyright, states the case. The amauti (woman's parka) and the kayak have similarly had its profiteers: Copper and Caribou Inuit Clothing Traditions.

We do not refer to our Northern Aboriginal Peoples as this term is an outdated term referring to 'eaters of raw meat'. Firstly, the correct term is Inuit, as befits an incredible culture, with phenomenal values, lifestyles, artistic talents, and practices regarding food, clothing, and shelter, that reflect a People who have survived many years in cold, barren conditions.

I am really unsure how a candy in the warm climes of this country finds it fitting to use an image of the far north.

We need politically correct writers, especially in local papers, where a balance of opinions are not necessarily printed. Local papers do not often print articles, or points of view, that reflect the larger world view.

C'mon, Mr. Black, get with the modern millennium!

The full CBC article is here: says, New Zealand sour on Canadian Inuk's opposition to candy on 23 Apr 2009 ... Seeka Veevee Parsons, 21, came across the Eskimo Lolly at a convenience ... which has been a fixture on New Zealand shelves since 1955. ...

Photos of Aboriginal dancers/performers from the International Aboriginal Festival in Ottawa, a gr. 6 Field trip - Field Trips for educators: (PPT.htm).

I'm in the news!

MODERN JOURNAL. "Jen Jilks has developed quite a following on her blog with her tales of living in Muskoka. Blogging about Muskoka has become a popular pastime and new sites are springing up weekly."

Isn't that fun?!

We have a terrific arts community, with plenty of visual, musical, and literary craftpersons. Thanks to Kerri for a lovely article about we Muskokan bloggers! We had a great interview and chat in Oliver's. (Photo: right, by my husband!)

Kerri, the journalist, is a lovely young lady who attended Queen's University, and grew up in Guelph. Check out her blog: Rollicking Measures.

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Weather coverage - a rant on disparities

It is so difficult getting accurate weather forecasts AND weather conditions up here in Central Ontario!

On the right is the CITY News current temperatures, showing North Bay at 8 ˚ C., which is a bit brisk!

Not bad, a nice bit of coverage for South and Central Ontario. We're south of North Bay, and there is a large undocumented area...but...

What amazes me is that while CBC Toronto (CBC= Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), on my tax dollar, claims they cannot cover our weather in their 6 p.m. forecasts (I have asked!),
Boston News can. North Bay: 64 ˚!

You can see it! Clearly. Not a problem. Boston knows that many people drive north to Central Ontario. We have hundreds of thousands of visitors.

It is amazing how easy it is... In the CBC screen shot, Muskoka is somewhere under the red bar, near the 'R' in RIGHT NOW. The forecast explains the subtle differences between Toronto city and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The differences are usually one degree. How difficult is it to at least post a temperature for Central Ontario? We have no other local stations.

The Marine Forecast is featured on a Friday night, when many boaters are already on the road on the Highway #400 parking lot trying to make their way north.

At the left are the cities where CBC had coverage. What an insult to the less urban regions of Ontario. CBC features Thunder Bay, Toronto and Ottawa, and leave out the Central parts of the province. In fact, the Thunder Bay site often includes much about Toronto and little about us down here.

It is quite humorous to listen to weather forecasts on CBC. There are no other choices for news, radio stations or other data. It appears that we are not part of their 'listening area'. For example, one morning at 7:30 they claimed temperatures in the listening area in the low 20s, but our overnight temperature was 15˚ Celsius. We get London, Ontario, 'regional newscasts', although I do like hearing about traffic jams in the big city. It makes the bugs on May/June worth it! Peterborough has its own coverage with a regional reporter, but so much Muskoka.

'Normal' temperatures for Muskoka are 16˚ in June with average overnight temperatures being 9˚. We were above that one 2008 June day, with a storm coming up from the US bringing a warm front. The temperatures really vary.

The Globe & Mail covers 'Ontario'. The Toronto Star's web page (bless them, too!) includes information for Toronto & GTA, plus a page for Ontario. Apparently, to the CBC, Ontario, Canada, consists of Ottawa, Windsor and Toronto: with nothing in between.

A winter forecast: Here we are, still getting snow. The weather network says "isolated flurries", my butt! Below zero temperatures - I put on a fire in the wood stove.

It dumped snow that day! See: Numb in November!

We are collateral damage, methinks. The Lake Effect snow (see the Environment Canada image at right) occurs from winds whipping across the lakes, picking up moisture and letting us have it!

If you are travelling to Muskoka, check out the fabulous Webcams that show what is truly going on around Central Ontario. The big corporations do not really care about us up here in Central Ontario!

You can check out Road Conditions here across the province. That is not a bad idea.
I have found that another Muskoka blogger, Gord has decided, for the sake of his resort customers, to post his own information about Muskoka weather. He runs a great site, and has done us all a service.

The Accu-Window-Weather site (click on logo - right) has links to various webcams across the province. The map (left) shows the numerous webcams local business owners have put up on Gord's site. A fabulous site. View the Port Carling webcam, for example, or Parry Sound, or Huntsville.

With potentially a million visitors to Muskoka, a million visitors to Muskoka on long weekends, most coming up highway #400, they are wise to ensure they are warm enough, have rain gear, or we have favourable conditions. With the high winds of late, we are susceptible to power outages, too. That is another story!


What makes a good commercial?


Tuesday 26 May 2009

Pond Life - WW #37

I have spent most summers beside this particular pond since 1960, right beside the lake. This is a photo from my high school days, with our wee doggie.

I find pond life most interesting. This pond changes every day, depending upon seasons, weather and cloud cover, flora and fauna. It varies from lakes, rivers, and oceans. I created a summer YouTube pond video of the insects last year. Nature, in water, fascinates me.

This is our watery pond: summer, winter, spring. frog's eggs

Now, Mother Nature is someone from whom to glean knowledge. We can all learn from one another, human or animal.

We have both tadpoles and snapping turtles in our pond. This pond is a lovely one. And millions of frog's eggs, ready to hatch into tadpoles. Here they are in the murky, dark water, with one tadpole swimming over top.

I walked down to the pond to do my thrice daily inspection. I spotted this black ribbon of sperm-like critters, moving like a seething ribbon along the edge of the water. The tadpoles have hatched by the thousands. Dark, for camouflage, they are about as long as my baby finger is wide. Moving constantly, they eat of the micro-organisms, algae and larvae that thrive in the cozy pond, made quite warm by the sun.

Eventually, the cycle of life complete, the pond will dry up in hot August weather, barring another rainy July like last year. And the annual ritual will be complete, the cycle done.

As I walked along the edge of the pond, in bare feet to better feel the hot rocks and warm my soul, it occurred to me that my old friend, the snapper, must be in heaven. I spotted it across the pond, motionless as a rock, surrounded by breakfast, lunch and many dinners to come.

I couldn't get a close shot, but knew that s/he spent all summer in my pond. I was determined to have patience and to be vigilant.

I came back the next day, and here was my buddy on the close shore. It sat there watching me, feigning inanimate rock-like status, but it couldn't fool this old frog catcher. Like a stone, tadpoles swimming over, under, around and on top of it.

But it sat with Buddha-like quietness, waiting for the stupid two-legged one to leave it alone. I snapped a photo of a teeny tadpole in close-up on its toad-like, rough leg.

I have never picked it up before, but my hands were clean, and I wanted a look.

It turns out it is blind in its right eye. I had never been this close to be able to perceive its disability.

Its under belly is interesting, fit for pond life. Long tail for navigating.

Above all, we do no hsnapperarm, and I put it back down on the rock as it scrambled back into the pond.

I tried to ponder the lessons.

  • You sit and meditate, and eventually sustenance will come to you.

  • All around it was food on the hoof, so to speak. But it couldn't see it.
  • When put it down again, it could not see me. If you do not keep an eye out (it only has one) they'll get you.
  • Be mobile, don't carry too much junk with you.

Automotive Industry Bailout

It is the kind of headline that gets me going...

Over 50s 'needing to work longer'
Almost two thirds of over 50s may have to work longer, as the recession has hit their savings and pensions, a study claims.

In the meantime, in other headlines: it is clever that GM workers vote yes. And GM workers in 4 Ontario cities ratify new deal.

Not a surprise that workers at General Motors of Canada Ltd. ratified a 3rd deal: another round of concessions in less than a year. GM workers voted 86 % in favour, despite "deep concessions".

Where is the money coming from? Ontario tax dollars, as implied by federal industry Minister, Tony Clement. Yet the above linked article says, "Ontario said there won't be an agreement on who will be responsible for covering the plan's shortfall – the company, provincial taxpayers or federal taxpayers – until a final restructuring plan is presented." I would like some answers, myself. How about you?

Now, I have blogged about this before, simply as a taxpayer, and a citizen. It does enervate does it not? I am beyond anger and frustration. As a retiree, with a pension below the poverty line, I pay over $200 per month to belong to a health care plan. GM workers will pay $30 PER MONTH in health care, and more for Rx drugs. The rest of us chumps who do not have such a plan, continue to look for work (8% of Canadians), do not have such plans, and, fortunately, rely on our health care system. The union, the article says, says hourly labour costs will be lowered to $57 per hour, down $20 per hour from what they were getting.

GM retirees get phenomenal health care benefits. Partly since their US-based negotiators at head offices know how bad the American medicare system is for those without money. The NY Times calls it: "time is about to run out on G.M.’s gold-plated medical benefits." writes "GM says it can't afford pension, medical plans". No kidding! My husband's idea is to simply give the bailout money to individuals who can create small businesses and work programs. They can get funding to retool, market the ZENN car, for example, if only Ontario would get off its butt and legalize them. Vehicles that use Canadian ingenuity, such as the ZENN car and renewable energy sources.

I devoted my early career years to raising kids. I came late to teaching. I retired early, with a penalty, having burned out caring for failing parents. It seems that I am in the middle, in the sandwich generation. I feel for those getting minimum wage, but at least their low taxes do not go to propping up the automotive industry's pensions. I feel badly for the estimated 300 GM dealers who will close (GM to close up to 300 dealers). But I do not think that the public is happy with this deal. I do not think we can afford to prop up an industry that made bad decisions. We need to rethink and find a new vision of transportation that respects workers, taxpayers, the environment and all stakeholders.

Monday 25 May 2009

Farmer's Markets: My World XXXIII

This post was inspired by my friend, Weaver of Grass, in the UK. She visited Canada and posted photos about a market.

The markets: they're back! We make a point of visiting weekly. We love the various goods, but love the vendors. Such great people. The photo at right shows an Orillia beekeeper, and my family at the Bala market.

Those in purple are open in May. The others will open at a later date. Check the hotlinks for local contact information.

Monday: Bala, The Shield Parking Lot - Hwy 169, 9 - 2:00
Tuesday: none I've found... :-(
Wednesday: Gravenhurst: Muskoka Wharf, May 20 to October 7, 9 - 2:00 ]
Thursday: [ Huntsville: Can. Tire Parking Lot, 9 - 2:00]
Fridays: [ Rosseau: July 1st, 9 - 2 | Baysville: 5pm - 8pm ]
Saturdays: [ Bracebridge @ Memorial Park, 9-2 | Dorset: 10 - 2:00]

Market days are fun. It takes one back to the days when one had to go to market to pick up fresh goods. There are may in other countries who do not need the refrigeration we need, as they can pick things up on the way home from work.

I love the variety of goods: stone work, jewellery, iron and metal work, fudge, baked goods, fresh produce, Vietnamese food, BBQs with freshly cooked lunch, crepes, honey, meat, wood carvings, clothing, and a great variety of arts and crafts.

Friends visit each other, cottage neighbours run into one another, and there is a festive air for all.

What is the most fun is that on a quiet day, or if a storm is brewing and business is slow, the vendors visit with each other!

The food is great; pancakes, popcorn, fudge, sausages, fresh baked goods, fruits, veggies, jams, spices and all are invited to partake!

We bought Guinevere (the dragon) from the Gravenhurst market. She was delivered the same day. It was my hubbie's anniversary present!

We were married by the lake, on our lakeshore, in Aug., 2002. Wedding photos by local photographer, Terry Hrynyk. Read the May, 2009, issue of Muskoka Magazine for more info on Muskoka Weddings!)